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Clubscape: The Holy Mountain

His innate talent for still-image storytelling is eternalizing dance music.
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Art has brought us landscapes, seascapes and cityscapes, but our generation has seen a new environment flourish: the Clubscape. Our Clubscape series aims to provide you a behind-the-scenes perspective on how rave culture is experienced, captured, and illuminated by electronic music's best photographers.

All aspects of the tremendously vast dance music industry have been eternalized by Demain Becerra — that's why he's the The Holy Mountain. A photographer of many subjects, including nightclubs, festivals, artists, he's a recent addition to Insomniac Events' innovative photography team. Bercerra's camera lens has carried him across all sorts of dance music territory. Recently, THUMP spoke to the self-taught San Francisco-based photographer about his innate talent for still-image storytelling.


THUMP: What's it like shooting for such an aesthetically-driven company like Insomniac?
Becerra: Shooting at a club, I have a lot more more freedom to do what I want. With Insomniac, it's a little more strict. There's a certain aesthetic and we're all kind of trying to get the photos that they want, but even though they have their own aesthetic, they're open to everyone's style. That's what I like about it; they have their own vision, and we have our own approach to it. There's this huge team of photographers who each have their own spin on what they ask of us. It creates a really cool album. At the end of the day, it's cool seeing everyone's photos. We have a really big team that a lot of other festivals don't have.

Do you feel a sense of synergy when shooting with a team?
It doesn't feel like there's any competition at all when we're working in a team, which is why I really love it. It feels like family — everyone's working together and at the end of the day, our album is just an Insomniac album. It's just everyone working together to tell a story. We all have our assigned tasks that we're supposed to shoot. Each of us have specific things we're good at. For me, I like going around and finding interesting people in the crowd. Having an entire team just flows really well.

How would you describe your style?
I feel my photos aren't as technical. I don't know a lot about equipment. It's more about the feeling to me. It's very in the moment. I try to find unique perspectives. When I first started shooting there weren't that many photographers, and now there are so many. I kind of just realized I had to do something that made me stand out. I shot film before shooting concerts. I kind of wanted to edit my photos in a way that reminded me of film, like the colours and the grain.


How did you initially start in music photography?
In 2008, I took my camera to a HARD concert in LA. I just took my camera with me to try and take some photos. After, I ended up getting contacted by Gary Richards, the dude that runs the company. He liked the photos, which I was surprised about because I pretty much had no experience. Looking back on the equipment I used back then, I would never use it now.

It seems like you have a genuine relationship with a lot of the musicians you shoot. Why is that important?
When I used to shoot events, it would usually be just me there. I was able to talk to the artists afterwards. It was crazy because I was always into electronic music. I'd see an artist that I'm a huge fan of and I would decide to not take a photo of him when we first met. I'd just have a conversation and then the next time that we met, he would ask me to take his photo.

Within the dance music umbrella, you shoot several types of genres. Do you change your according to genre?
I try to keep it the same. I don't really try and change it too much. I like shooting music because no matter what genre or language an artist is speaking, it's something that everyone just feels.

What advice do you have for other photographers who are just starting out?
I think people need to be ready to pay their dues. Nowadays, people just expect instant gratification. You can't start at the top. You have to shoot events all the time and understand that there's people above you who have been doing this for years. It's not that they want to be above you, everyone's trying to help each other. There will also be opportunities that you almost have but don't get. Just keep on going, there will be more opportunities. Maybe your didn't work for one person, but it will for another.


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Rebecca is on Twitter.